Proposal calls for tax increase | CraigDailyPress.com
Christina M. Currie

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Proposal calls for tax increase

Referendum 32 would raise residential tax assessment rates

A little-discussed referendum on the November ballot has the power to change the state’s tax structure in a way that may increase residents’ property taxes.

Referendum 32 would set the residential tax assessment rate at 8 percent, up from the 7.96 percent existing rate.

Experts say if the measure passes, by 2009 the average homeowner will pay $119 more each year than if it doesn’t pass. That’s because the assessment rate would be frozen at 8 percent of the home’s value rather than dropping to the projected 2009 level of 7.25 percent.

“Amendment 32 is a good start to changing a tax structure in which the consequences of three different amendments work against each other. It deserves a ‘Yes’ vote, states the Grand Junction Sentinel in an Oct. 1 editorial.

Amendment 32 addresses the 1982 Gallagher Amendment, which requires that the assessed valuation of residential property never increase to more than a certain percentage of the total assessed valuation of all property in the state — making businesses bear the lion’s share of the burden of property tax.

The Gallagher Amendment fixed homeowners’ annual share of the total tax burden at 45 percent and that of commercial property owners at 55 percent.

The provisions of the Gallagher Amendment have meant that as more and more homes have been built in Colorado, their assessed valuation has dramatically dropped. In 1983, the assessed valuation was 21 percent. Today, it’s 7.96 percent. The assessed valuation is the portion of a home’s value that residents pay property taxes on.

If Amendment 32 passes, as property values continue to increase, the amount of taxes homeowners pay would also increase.

It also would mean more money for state and local governments, particularly school districts. Amendment 32 would redistributed the burden for funding public schools from the state to local property taxpayers and increase revenue for any entity that is funded through a property tax mill levy, including the Craig/Rural Fire Protection District, the Colorado River Water Conservation District and Colorado Northwest Community College-Craig.

Businesses won’t be affected by this rate increase. Their tax rate is frozen at 29 percent.

Moffat County’s current property levy is 61.315 mills. A mill levy is a tax rate expressed in dollars of taxes per $1,000 in property value, meaning homeowners pay about $61.32 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.